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Elon Musk says he believes he’ll send people to Mars by 2026, or even 2024. This timeline has Musk taking off for Mars when NASA is just reaching the moon again. (Maybe.) We can’t ignore the countless unanswered questions about Mars travel and habitation.
At an awards ceremony this week, Elon Musk said he believes he can start sending humans to Mars with SpaceX by 2026 at the latest, or 2024 “if we get lucky.”
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Was Musk talking up his timeline to a group that just awarded him for innovation (the SpaceX founder won this year’s Axel Springer Award), or does he actually believe this? It’s hard to say. But the timeline is, to put it mildly, unlikely.
SpaceX has partnered with NASA on several projects, including making a customized lunar shuttle to travel between the moon’s orbit and surface for the Artemis series of missions. NASA’s Artemis program wants to put people on the moon by 2024, and even that mission’s plans are called “an aggressive timeline” by NASA administrators.
NASA says the moon goal is critical to the next phase of traveling to Mars, but the agency hasn’t set any timeline for that phase. The 2024 goal was imposed from outside by Vice President Mike Pence (it was originally 2028).
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In the meantime, the rocket Musk is relying on to get to Mars as soon as 2024 is about to complete a big test. Later this week, SpaceX is
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